T Nation

Stronger on Incline Bench Than Flat


okay at my original gym at uni i'm restricted to db chest movements on chest day cause it always packed so haven't done barbell bench in a while and also don't have any chest press machines

joined a better equipped gym over the holidays back home

had 2 chest workouts so far - higher rep range cause back at home cant eat as well so just trying ease off for a month

workout 1 (went gym on an empty stomach in the morning)

45 degree incline bb bench - 185 for 3 sets of 6-12
flat hs machine press - 70 on each side 3 sets of 10-12 (expected to be much stronger tried doing 90 but could only do 5 reps so dropped the weight was not too worried at the time cause it was my first time using a hs machine)
rest of the workout

workout 2 today (had a good meal an hour before gym)

bb bench - 95 warm up fine lol 135 for warm up and my right shoulder feels a bit weird and weight feels heavier on that side
i reset my form and go again and it feels better
try 185 and could barely get 4 reps :s so i just quit on that move and went to flat db's

db bench - 75 for 3 sets of 8-12
incline hs machine press - was able to get up to 90 on each side 3 sets of 6-8
rest of the workout

so i was stronger on both incline movements for each move in one case having less food in workout one and in the second case was stronger on the incline hs machine even though it was a secondary movement

used the same grip for both barbell movements but back at uni i have done 165-185 for close grip bench press even after doing sets heavy weighted dips

focusing on bringing up my upper chest (going to start setting up the incline in the power rack at uni) so i guess its not to much of a bad thing right?

i just cant see what the issue may be any advice? any suggestions?


I've known many people who are stronger at incline work. Heck, I focus a lot more on incline work myself, so it wouldn't surprise me if my flat BB bench (which I haven't done in years) was actually less. Keep in mind though that a lot of people perform flat bench with their delts assisting to a good degree.

Your front delts are smaller, and weaker than your pecs. Incline work can actually remove the delts from assisting/limiting if done correcting, hence the whole 'better stretch in the pecs' argument some pros make for focusing more on incline work for their chest. As long as you're making progress though (whether in strength, or hypertrophy, whichever is your goal), I wouldn't obsess about it.



thanks a lot for the feedback ... im just going to primarily focus on incline work from now on


I'm also stronger at incline... Seemed to improve very quickly as soon as I started working on heavy tricep assistance work. I wouldn't worry about it bro.


thanks for that ... after testing out regular bench press for the first time in a 1.5 years im guessing im tricep dominant cause im stronger on the cg bench press (which i do regularly) and i seem to be able to stay 'tighter' with a close grip ... weigthed dips (staying straight to focus on triceps) have improved a lot of recent so what you saying makes sense

thanks again


No prob dude. I'm exactly the same as you in regard to the close grips. For a while my close grip was within 15lbs of my flat bench which was strange. I even considered dropping flat bench completely and just doing close grips and inclines, but I thought that would be silly so I just alternate between incline and flat.

I think it has it's advantages for sure, delt dominant guys seem to get too much additional delt volume and then end up injured... I'm sure there are pros and cons to both but I wouldn't worry about correcting it or anything.


I'm gonna have to assume your technique/setup sucks. No offense, but that's what it comes down to.

Are you touching your chest on incline bench? Are you just lying back and benching, or actually arching your lower back, tucking your shoulderblades back, etc?

As usual, vids are easiest way to figure out if that's what it is.


x2 technique is a game changer


^...not to mention he said he didn't try flat BB bench for 1.5 years...of course it's going to be friggin' awkward the first few weeks. Doesn't necessarily mean it's weaker. Why give up on it so quickly?



well not really 1.5 years cause i didn't train at all for a whole year and a bit cause i couldn't afford a gym membership, food, transport etc and have been back to the gym past 4 months

as i said it was the first time doing any barbell CHEST movement in a while due to gym situation

so i did incline bench first workout during the holiday to try it out then flat bench the next workout

hadn't focused on any of those movement prior join a new gym for the holidays

so both movement were 'new' to me and thats why i made the thread cause i thought it was weird that i was better on the incline even tho i did that workout without a pre-workout meal


no offense taken lol

yeah i always touch my chest except for last 1-2 reps at times

as i said i do close grip bench regularly and i don't experience the same problem and that's the only barbell push movement i have done consistently

i use that set up when doing cg bench and have been able to go heavier than i was able to go using a wider grip... that's why i assumed i guess i'm weaker with a wider grip or i'm able to keep better setup with cg bench

i was also stronger on the hs incline machine than the flat hs machine as i said above


why does this matter? if it works it works, just fucking lift.


as always there's that one person who posts in a thread for the sake of it

why bother posting if you ain't going to give constructive advice or give a suggestion like the people above?


its constructive by being unconstructive, i ask why does this matter because youre worrying about things that dont matter, if youre stronger on one lift than another, awesome. But the heart of the matter isnt whether youre stronger on one or the other its are you lifting correctly, are you progressing, are you happy with your workouts in general (yes they should be 'fun') these are much more important questions to examine than, hey guys im can lift more weight on X than Y, is this ok? So yeah, im that guy who just posts to post.


if you read my original post i doubt you would be saying any of that, anybody who lifts would probably have the slightest concern if they experienced such

in most cases - decline bench > flat bench > incline bench

so i dont see how asking for any reasons behind me behind being stronger on incline
bench is wrong

when did asking for advice on strength level differences on a bodybuilding forum become a bad thing?


Yep, sounds simply like dominant triceps/delts+lack of good tight bench setup. I'd recommend prioritizing chest a little more than tri's in the near future, and working on a tighter setup on flat bench, especially when using a wider grip.

Watch any videos and/or read any articles by westside people, shit, there's plenty of them on here, or elsewhere on the web. And don't get too caught up in the minutia, as bignate said. You're still pretty small, and not very strong, so unless you're using a horrible split, have atrocious form, etc, some of these problems should fix themselves with time, and as knowledge/experience are gained.